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knasser
Firstly, I'm going to try and keep the spoilers to a minimum, but as I went on with this, I found it simply wasn't possible to give a fair review without them. So this review is really for GMs only. It's based, quite obviously at the time of writing, only on the PDF version.

Firstly, I think one thing should be made clear - this is not, as it has sometimes been referred to, an adventure. This needs to be made abundantly clear. You don't get maps. You don't get statistics, results of legwork rolls, proposed rewards. You don't even get character descriptions. It's not written at that level at all. Anyone who purchases Emergence expecting to be able to "run" it, is in for a very big disappointment. For that reason I think it's best that this is cleared up as fast as possible, because failing to be what one expects can blind one to something's good qualities. If you've read the expanded run ideas at the back of Runner Havens, or in the Contacts and Adventures booklet that came with the Shadowrun screen, you'll have a very good idea of what Emergence contains. I'll return to these adventure frameworks later, but I thought it was best to begin with making this clear.

Now moving on, we come to what may be the biggest factor in whether or not Emergence works for you or not - Technomancers. It's been repeatedly stated by the developers here on Dumpshock, that this book is useful whether or not you have technomancers in your party and that it's good for all character types. This is something that I think is disingenuous and, quite honestly, not true. This book puts the spotlight on technomancers and never takes it off. Now it's true that other character types can be involved. Mages, adepts and samurai can participate in rescuing technomancers from those who persecute them, they can help protect technomancers as they come out to the public, they can help technomancers come to terms with their new abilities, they can help technomancers negotiate with...

[ Spoiler ]


Yes, there are many ways that other characters can help the Technomancers. But I think the point is made: if Emergence were the X-men, then the technomancers are the mutants and everyone else is Bobby's parents.

As with most things, if it's what you want, then it's not a problem, but at least for me, it's inescapable. I don't have any technomancers in my party. That makes the players inevitably on the thematic outside of the whole campaign arc. But if I did have a technomancer in my party, I think the situation would be actually worse. Consider the following:
  • The majority of the campaign arc revolves around the prejudice and hatred of technomancers. We're talking sizable bounties on these people, vivisection, public lynchings. That puts any technomancer player into a pre-defined role already. No other archetype has such in-built social roles.
  • Your technomancer has probably already been playing for a while, given the late emergence of Emergence, and although there have been foreshadowing and hints that technomancers are considered new and strange, they weren't very heavy and your player has probably been openly a technomancer all along. It's going to be strange when suddenly he's a strange new phenomenon, hated and feared for his freaky powers. You can play it as attitudes changing, but quite honestly, your players are going to wonder why if people weren't freaked out before, it should suddenly cause such terror to people now.
  • Worst of all, if you have a technomancer in the party, that player now has the whole focus of the campaign arc on them. So who plays the technomancer in your group? The annoying player that keeps wandering off to play X-box or the super-role-player who would love playing a poor persecuted technomancer? Think carefully on this. It's not that the player will necessarily be the one to solve every adventure and save every day, but they will be the one that the whole theme of the campaign is built around, but do you want a spotlight on that particular player all the time? If they play to it, then other players may resent it. If they just don't care, then it undermines your game. If I ran this campaign for my group, I would be lucky to get to the fourth adventure before they were throwing dice at me and threatening to lynch technomancers themselves

Which brings us on to the whole lynching theme of the book. It is about the prejudice and hatred and fear of the technomancers. This is integral to Emergence. The question in many GMs minds will be 'why?' In some ways, Technomancers are more powerful than hackers mechanically. But they're not an order of magnitude above them. There are balancing limits to the archetype. There have to be, because it's a game. So the same counter-measures that are used against Hackers are in the main, as effective (or ineffective) against technomancers. And a radio-brain is no better mechanically than an implanted commlink. The GM and players will be forgiven for wondering where all this terror and awe comes from. Of course, there are real world examples of baseless prejudice. There are enough people in the world that are convinced that black muslim homosexual terrorists are going to steal their women that we might accept there would be prejudice against the humble technomancer. Indeed, explicit references are made in the book to "yellow stars" and "final solutions."

Now one of the things that came up several times on the forums before Emergence came out, was why there should be such prejudice. Reading the contents page in the preview (after having extracted it from under the blacked out text, anyway), I thought we actually had a decent explanation for this - technomancers are the result of AIs and therefore inherently sinister. But reading through Emergence itself, there are several places where it explicitly makes clear that AIs are a "myth" that the public does not generally consider and which remains a myth even after the technomancer hysteria begins to hit. So why this terror about technomancers? In a world that has seen goblinisation and the return of magic, people who can interface with a computer with their minds... it just seems such a non-thing to get worked up about. And whilst there are plenty of non-things in the real world that people get worked up about, but these all have a "threat" element to them which breaks down in the analogy with technomancers. With race, it breaks down because technomancers appear in your own groups. Maybe it's communists, but again the analogy breaks down because the role of Russia would be played by the AIs, and these are relegated to myth and the connection between them and technomancers weak. Maybe it's simply the fear of the unknown, but in the world of magic, technomancy is a parlour trick. A GM can get away with setting up this prejudice, but I don't think it stems naturally from the setting.

Now this brings us on to something that I don't want to talk about in much detail because it's very spoilerific, and that's the subject of AIs. They make an appearance in the later parts of Emergence, but I'm going to gloss over the details. Suffice to say that it's not the world-shatterng sort of thing you got with Deus. My problem with the AI elements of the plot is that they essentially relegate players to the sidelines. But as was the intention, there are no rules attached to this phenomenon. I think rules are probably needed to properly make use of this aspect of the adventure, but until Unwired, the GM is going to have to improvise. That's not a big task, though, when you see what's actually involved. There are some nice ideas with these, though I think they needed more fleshing out and I'll be looking forward to seeing them properly handled in future books.

Returning the adventure frameworks themselves, as I said at the beginning, there is a lot of work to be done with them to turn them into adventures proper. But what of the actual frameworks themselves? Any good? For the most part passable, but very few of them have anything in the way of sophistication. A typical example would be protect the technomancer for the night (pg. 47 for those who want to see what I mean). It's very by the numbers, very sparse and is significant only by virtue that the person they are protecting is a technomancer and that the enemy want him because of this. In fact, just before this adventure framework, is a line that is very telling and sums up a major underlying problem with the adventure frameworks:

QUOTE (Emergence)

The following adventure frameworks can be used by the
gamemaster to link his players to the events of Emergence.


The events of Emergene are world-spanning and as inevitable as continental drift (as written, anyway). What the adventure frameworks offer, is the potential for players to get caught up in them and play spin off runs from these events. They are not critical to how things go overall. No doubt this is intentional, but is it a good intention? It's going to depend on how each individual GM feels. It's a valid way of lending some over-arching significance to individual runs, but it also runs the counter risk of making the players feel that they aren't a significant part of events, just a sideshow. GMs should consider carefully the overall tone of their adventure and if, like me, you like making your players more the heros of events, you'll need to do some tuning to give them more significant roles. Some of them do have the shine of inspiration on them. There's one that I really like the idea of enormously but I don't want to spoil. It starts on page 107 for those that want to look. I'll be fleshing that one out and using it.

So what else is in the book? Well, I'll tell you what isn't. An actual explanation of how technomancers work.

QUOTE (Emergence @ pg.20)
Are they Awakened, mundane, or something entirely different? Are their abilities biological, genetic, or magical?
...
The exact nature of technomancers, their abilities, and their powers
will be further explored in future Shadowrun publications—but
they may never be fully “settled.? Emergence is not intended to
provide comprehensive answers to the nagging questions of both
gamemasters and players.



I find that annoying for one personal reason that may not apply to other GMs, so keep this in mind. I have an aversion to magic taking over the matrix. Why is that a problem? Because to me, the most natural explanation for technomancer's abilities is magic. It's certainly not easily explainable with science or technology. There is reference made in the flavour text to chemical anomolies in experimental subjects, and you could take that as the basis for an explanation in nano-technology or something if you were imaginative, but it doesn't explain how someone aquires these traits by experiencing a crash in virtual reality. The direct reflection of the shadowrun magic mechanics in technomancer rules, their name, the sprites and the outlandishness of their actual abilities ("I decrypt radio signals with my frontal lobes, what do you do for a hobby?") always tip the suspicion toward magic, for me. And the developers of 4th edition have so far done a fantastic job of balancing magic and technology. Perhaps I'm just old school from 1st edition where it was more magic vs. technology, but I feel that thematically it upsets the balance when magic starts exceeding technology on its own turf. Some explanation of technomancers is needed I feel, and Emergence does not provide that when I thought it would. I'm still stuck with "they got radio-brains, but it's not magic, trust me." This might not bother others, however.

Something that the book does contain, is Shadowtalk. Lots of it. No really - lots of it. The first eight pages of the book are nothing but. Then you get six pages of game information (mainly adventure ideas) and then another nineteen pages of shadowtalk. The pattern lasts for most of the book and Emergence is 120 pages long! Now the Shadowtalk includes uploaded file snippets boosted from people's commlinks or ripped from corporate labs, etc. But it's essentially shadowtalk. What does a GM do with it all? Well I assume that the intention is that it has to make its way to the players somehow. You can't have half the book as just GM-only hints (and it is only hints, so it isn't really directed at GMs who need more than hints to run the world). So how do you convey all this to the players? Most of the Shadowtalk is ongoing commentary on world events, so it can kind of be integrated into the runs, I guess. But it will be odd to have information fed to the players from characters they have no contact with. The players as chat room lurkers? Seems odd. Most players will immediately start replying and then the GM suddenly finds themselves playing an extra load of NPCs in an online dialogue and will also find that he's imported them (and jackpoint) into his game on an ongoing basis even after Emergence is done. The GM can just use the file excerpts from the Shadowtalk, without the poster's comments, but that brings us back to large swathes of the book just not reaching the players. Also, much of the Shadowtalk is an ongoing discussion that runs through the whole of the book. It would be difficult to pass on only parts of it to the players without it seeming odd. If the intention is that the players should just be passed all of it to read, then they're being relegated to listeners of a story instead of players and that's very bad, imo.

One other thing that bugged me with the Shadowtalk, though it's very specific, is the character of Clockwork. Most of the shadowtalk posters are just cyphers for a particular point of view or area of knowledge, but Clockwork especially so. Despite superficial suggestions to the contrary, the morale message of Emergence is fairly simplistic. And Clockwork plays the role of nazi with his irredemable prejudice. His arguments are quickly shot down in lieu of a more intelligent debate. I'm not saying that other arguments for what he's saying would be right (they would not be), but it does a diservice to the reader when the reader himself is thinking of better arguments on Clockwork's behalf that could have been put. Clockwork is a dumb-bigot that is highlighted as bad guy toward the end. A more credible arguer would have been scarier. But perhaps broader strokes were felt necessary. On the same general subject...

(the below spoiler is directly related to one of the adventures, and though I've kept the detail to the minimum, specific caution is advised):

[ Spoiler ]


So on the whole, I'm afraid that this has been a pretty negative review. It's a shame, because I think Shadowrun 4th Edition is fantastic and the quality of Street Magic as a supplement was through the roof. So I want to finish by focusing on the positives. Firstly, the PDF is £9.00. That's a couple of pizzas. If you think anything in Emergence will be useful, or even if you'll just enjoy reading it, I'd say get it (and have a salad wink.gif ). Also, the editing and general polish is up to the standard of 4th edition so far. It's all very swish and neat and clear. Some of the artwork is genuinely lovely (particularly whoever did the full-page piece on page 7). The minor art pieces are sparse, but also mostly quite nice. Also the chapter-heading bits of fiction are very good. It's hard to get a reaction from less than a side of A4 but they're well done and both the first and last ones have a punch. The closing piece actually achieves what I would call poignancy. smile.gif

I guess the summary is that I don't like what it is, but it's very good at being what it is. If you want the sort of context to write your adventures into that Emergence provides, then it will be a great product for you. As always, the above is only my point of view. I've tried to justify and explain my feelings so that you can disgard them where the same wont be true for you. And I wont be offended at all if the developers or anyone else want to shoot me down. It will after all, just add more points of view that are useful to other people and possibly solutions to some of the things I see as problems.

All done, now.

-Khadim.
mintcar
This is a very well written review, my friend. I'm sad to hear about the simplistic plot twists that you mention. The whole point of a publication like this is to provide a backbone of beliavable political conflict to Shadowrun campains.

I think I can tell what type of book it is from your review, there has been several like it in the past. I guess it's sort of like Mob War, Year of the Comet and System Failure. I read them all, but presious little made it's way into my game. I manage to throw together a Shadowrun game a few times a year nowadays, it's really sad, and my players never gets the chance to experience any epic developments first hand. They just do the basic stuff, and I'm telling them what's happening in the world as a background story.

I like the meta-plot. If nothing else, it's a way for a GM who never GMs anymore to enjoy Shadowrun. And for the few exceptions when I do GM, I like knowing what's going on in the world even when the characters in the team are street thugs who worry mostly about how to stick it to the gang across the street.
Critias
Thanks for the review (even if it's not what some of us wanted to hear). Emergence has never been high on my to-buy list (just never been a big Matrix fan in the first place, much less Otaku, much less the new gusy)... but, yeah. This pretty much cinches it.

The "one guy turns out to be a bigot and is so stupid and obvious about it all the cool kids take turns shutting him up" has long been a peeve of mine about the SR books. We KNOW racism is bad in real life. You don't have to bend over backwards to make it blatantly stupid and cartoony in-game, too.
Serbitar
Very nice review.

One question though: Is there any explanation why magic users are not also prosecuted? A mage is still far more porwerful than any TM, at least when it comes to direct effects. Damn a mage can just fly into your room in astral sapce and watch you having sex. Of cousrse hackers and TMs are of almost equal power because of the highly technological world and are more subtle, but still . . .

Also I share one of your fears: The advent of magic or magic like effects (whatever the awakening does) in the matrix. I am also a fan of magic vs technology. And it seems like magic has "won" now on all scales . . .
knasser
Thanks for the comment. Regarding:

QUOTE (Serbitar)
One question though: Is there any explanation why magic users are not also prosecuted?


Not that I recall. It's an inconsistency that remains. There's a small reference under the "Emergence and the Awakened" sidebar (which is very short, I'm afraid), that says some magicians may sympathise with technomancers because they relate it to their own "magophobic" experiences. One of the arguments in favour of mandatory technomancer registration used in the book is that it already exists for magicians, however.
Synner
At knasser' suggestion, I am reposting a reply to an earlier comment of his in another thread, that is reiterated in this thread. I really don't intend that this sound defensive, it isn't. This will be my first and final post to this thread. Constructive criticism is always appreciated though I believe I would have preferred it if knasser had held off until he had reread the book really shift through the material and let the implications sink in (as is it seems like a lot was skimmed over).

QUOTE (knasser)
So it's not really settled [whether TMs are magical or not]. And I'm really dissappointed in that. Synner has repeatedly and explicitly stated that technomancers are not magic and also said that things would become more clear with Emergence. Well now we see that it hasn't. If you want to state that something is not magic when it has every appearance of being magic (i.e. no plausible technological or scientific way it could happen), then you need to offer an alternative. You can't just say "trust me. It looks like this, but it isn't."

I beg to differ, Emergence does make things clearer. Emergence tells you several things (mainly in the first three chapters) that you did not know about technomancers.
[ Spoiler ]

What the game information in the first chapter says is simply that "Emergence is not intended to provide comprehensive answers to the nagging questions of both gamemasters and players." - ie. it doesn't settle things one way or another... but make no mistake Emergence gives you a number of clues as to what technomancers are and what they are not.

Note that I purposefully included your quoted line in the very first chapter (and not at the end) to avoid misleading readers who expect things to be wrapped up in a nice tidy bundle.

QUOTE
(a) Emergence suggests that there is no modification of the brain by such a technological process - it just happens to people,

This is incorrect. Emergence actually suggests three or four different ways the modifications could be accomplished by purely technological processes (three of them in chapter 2).

QUOTE
(b) doesn't suggest that itself.

Again, unsurprisingly, I disagree. Bibliophile's theory is perfectly plausible under one of the hypothesis fielded during the case study discussion in chapter 2. As it currently stands both bibliophile's and Wakshaani's [theories on a scientific basis for technomancy] are both still plausible "origins".

I apologize if my posts led you to believe that things would be resolved in some manner, though I don't believe I ever stated anything to that effect. I have repeatly stated that Emergence would make some things clearer regarding technomancers, and I stand by what I said.

As for the issue of format, Adam, Rat, myself and a handful of other freelancers have repeatedly described the book as being in the vein of System Failure or Year of the Comet. I don't see how anyone could think this was a traditional "adventure".

As to style, Emergence is presented as a discussion thread on FastJack's Jackpoint, one that happens to be discussing the issue of technomancy before it actually hits the front pages and it follows how the people on Jackpoints view and react to unfolding events (though there's also a continuing newsfeed to keep readers abreast of what which also doubles as adventure seeds). Not so different in its own way to the style chosen to present Universal Brotherhood for instance (though that only played off the two journalists involved). Had space allowed we'd have loved to have had old-style time stamps and all to better convey the feeling of passing time.

Jackpoint has replaced Shadowland as the default backdrop for the e-docs that appear as in game material. The reader is assumed to be a member of the Jackpoint's network reading the material at a later date (same as with Runner Havens and future setting books), just like readers in SR3 were logging on to Captain Chao's compilations on Shadowland.

In this case we believed an ongoing exchange between interested parties would be better solution stylistically and narratively than a bunch of collected essays on separate events with the common thread of emergence.

QUOTE (knasser)
QUOTE (Serbitar)

One question though: Is there any explanation why magic users are not also prosecuted?

Not that I recall. It's an inconsistency that remains.

I'd just like to say that I believe knasser's is wrong as to Emergence presenting solid reasons why technomancers are persecuted at this point in time.

There are both obvious and secondard reasons explaining why technomancers are percieved as a major threat, why the backlash becomes so vicious, why people are so quick to lash out, why technomancers are vilified beyond their actual power, and who/what is behind it. For anyone interested, the reasons are outlined in the game information starting with chapter 1 (running through all the chapters) and catalyzed by events at the end of chapter 2.

The book also states that the Sixth World has reacted in much the same way before to the emergence of magicians, the Goblinized and SURGElings (though it those cases, circumstances weren't purposefully spun to make the "fall guys" look bad).

Good review, btw.
Ancient History
Knasser, I think you might be missing the point on a few things.

For one, keep in mind that the world of 2070 is much more intimately connected with their computer systems-and five years ago they suffered a global crash that could have literally been the end of things. That's your initial framework.

Now, consider technomancers. Not everyone understands magic, but people recognize it. People recognize hackers, too-they've been around for nearly a century by this point. Now which one is scarier? Well, to an individual it's probably the magician-they can fry you just by looking at you. By comparison the technomancer is more likely to steal your SIN and your bank accounts. You'd have to be pretty conservative to hate technomancers just because they're different.

You know who technomancers are scary to? Megacorps. These are people who, just by existing, break all their carefully-held rules. A technomancer is a walking, talking security breach in progress. And they are dangerous. The public might never know the truth about what really happened during the Crash 2.0, but the corps do-and they're prepared to take steps to make sure it never happens again.

Really, the catalyst for this backlash against technomancers is media (which, surprise surprise, is owned by the corps) driven, based on the actions of individual technomancers.
bibliophile20
Personally, I happened to like it a great deal, but, again, that's a matter of personal taste.

Now, hitting the high points that I found interesting:

-Dr. Halberstam is dead, which is nothing but good news. When I found a copy of Threats five months ago, my first thought on reading that chapter was "Mengele v. 2.0"; add to the fact that he was killed, even indirectly, by his own subjects is delicious irony.

-MCT's damage control people are a bunch of fools, messing with the evidence that way, i.e. blowing up the hospital after the technomancers escaped to prevent discovery of their experiments. But then they and others continue with them anyway, simply delaying the inevitable discovery. Well, never underestimate greed or fear.

-On a similar note, Humanis seems to be pulling a similar sort of trick--have the thugs take on acting as the idiots (which probably isn't a hard act for them). If they succeed with some of their objectives, great. The furor is enough at the moment that they can probably get away with shifting blame onto the technomancers; same if they fail. And all the while they're either keeping the public's attention away from, keeping them from realizing the full potential of, or perhaps even agreeing with Brackhaven's Registration Act. I wouldn't put it past the guy.

-Also, on the note of the technomancer powers and the functioning thereof, I was right--something or somethings is meddling with the human brain and nervous system again, just like it (or they) did with otaku. Only this time, the process has been perfected further--now, it doesn't require a child's brain to work on, and the process has been expanded to making the entire nervous system into one giant antennae transceiver, which, considering that the brain has been adapted to be able to read raw digital signals before, isn't much of a further stretch for me. (And if they're essentially walking antennae, makes me wonder what would happen in the middle of a thunderstorm--and if they got struck by lightning).

-Also, sadly, the public reaction is quite believable to me. We're already living in an age where the cable and news channels can quickly spiral even something very small out of proportion and out of control--who here remembers the furor over the Runaway Bride? And now let's shift that over to an age where humanity is even *more* hyper-connected, where, instead of a missing woman it appears to be like a terrorist attack, there are megacorps actively--actively!--feeding the hysteria, and, oh yeah, people have spent the last six years looking for a scapegoat and suddenly finding one. The "yellow stars" comment in the shadowtalk? Completely believable. Read your history--Hitler did the same thing with the Jews, by blaming them for the damage that WWI did to Germany's economy, i.e. the war reparations. Now just accelerate that by a few thousand times to account for the state of hyper-connectivity, and you get the pattern in Emergence.

And as for the complaint that this focuses exclusively on a single character archetype--it doesn't. Chaos is chaos, and there's lots of that going around, and a good runner team can make oodles by picking and choosing their targets, like say, some of the new Luddites who haven't shifted their security yet. And as for the prejudice bit, mages and street sams already face that, albeit not to the same degree--mages because of the whole magic deal and street sams, as one of the books put it, "people are unnerved by someone who decided to have two perfectly good arms removed and replaced with metal." Technomancers are just facing the same thing--just turned up a few notches.

As for the AIs, I was personally hoping that one of the three had survived--at least Mirage, but hey, that's how things go. As for the new, smaller AIs, I personally think it's great--especially considering how Halberstam died a few months before they went public. Just a fun bit of irony there. And, if anything, these new AIs are even more usable than the old ones--instead of three gods, now you've got a bunch of slightly-better-than human AIs which can be used with a great deal more ease.

Now, three things that I'm still curious on, metaplot threads from System Failure that were not wrapped up like I had hoped. 1. Pax and her crew. As Puck doesn't seem to be a TM, I'm betting she's possibly a mundane now--and trying to figure out how to trigger TM abilities in herself. 2. The dragon that got stuck in the Matrix--there's a hint that he's a ghost now, but I'm not certain on that, which is annoying. 3. The big one--is Capt. Chaos still around as a ghost as well?

Oh, and a final thought--is there any chance for rules for PC AIs? Because that would be interesting, at least in concept.

Personally, I like it overall, and it's going to make things interesting; there are a few things that I have issues with--such as the fact that it's almost entirely shadowtalk on JackPoint, which will be annoying to integrate, but not that bad; ShadowSea is there for a reason, complete with their own message boards. It won't be to difficult to adapt the JackPoint stuff to ShadowSea for player handouts.
Serbitar
@Ancient History

That is definitely a point. As I mentioned before, magicians are more powerful than hackers/TMs using direct effects, but hackers /TMs win in subtlety.
A hacker/TM can completely destroy the life of somebody by altering data files in various database. He can convince your wife that you have betrayed her, he can take away all your money, he can fire you, he can post your sexual fantasies on the front page of a newspaper and so on. Thats something a magician can not do (at least not without going great length). this si as you said also true for Megacorps.


What I still do not like is that magic (or mysticism or whatever you call it, that fact that is is important that it is something that is not explainable by "normal" laws of nature and logic and to which only some people have access) is taking over the matrix and is gaining in "reality". We all know that a magician is better than a street sam/face/whatever in almost everything (except hacking, at least he ahs to learn real hacking and not substitute it with magic) because almost everything any archetype can do can be substituted by a magical effect. The only reason why other characters than magicians are played is because not everybody wants to play a magician (so basically because of "style over substance"). "fortunately", TMs are very broken at the moment. You will have to be very enthusiastic about TMs to play one (if you are aware of the rules). But if this changes you could play a total "mystic" SR4 group that can do everything. Thats something I don't like.
In the hacker vs Tm discussion I am definitely on the hackers side.
But thats just a personal opinion.
Rotbart van Dainig
QUOTE (bibliophile20)
-Dr. Halberstam is dead, which is nothing but good news.

Is he? He is starring his death in a perfectly cut and designed 'security' tape and later on, some dead man takes responsibility but states that it was all different and used as propaganda against technomancers - never to be heared of again.

How very convenient.
knasser

I don't really have much time to reply properly, so I'll just say at Synner and AH, that you make good points and I don't dismiss them. If people are interested in Emergence, then perhaps some of my negative points will serve simply as highlights of things that they will need to consider. In provoking responses from the developers on them, that is probably useful.

I guess the points I would remain least tractable on are whether players of non-technomancer characters will enjoy the campaign arc (I think a GM will have to take a lot of care with this), and that I really feel it's going to be necessary to explain technomancers at some point (and the sooner the better). My reason for the latter is that without explanation, they will always have a dramatic edge over Hackers. One guy is a programmer, but the other "becomes one with the Matrix." The latter will always steal the limelight. If I were required to balance it, I personally would make technomancers "infected by AI" in some way. Perhaps add overtones of manipulation or parallels to Shamans and their totems. I'd like to see Mentor AIs in Unwired, eh? wink.gif That way, technomancers would become more akin to sorcerors or the possessed, but non-magical (they would be physically altered). That way, you both enhance the unnaturalness and weirdness of them (encouraging the prejuidice you desire) and at the same time, reduce their "I'm more special than the hacker" aspect by making it the result of an outside agency.

Bugger. That took far more time than I intended. Got to go.

-K.
Ancient History
Knasser, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say you haven't read the whole book yet, right?
knasser
QUOTE (Ancient History @ Jun 23 2007, 02:08 PM)
Knasser, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say you haven't read the whole book yet, right?


About 80% of the whole text, yes. (And no - that doesn't mean I only reached page 100 and stopped there). You're being inscrewtable again, AH. What did we tell you about that? wink.gif

(PM me if you need to kick me about something and you don't want to post it here).

-K.
Aaron
I've only read the book once, but I don't seem to recall Humanis being thugs or a lynch mob. I do remember a bunch of thugs and lynch mobs being sponsored by Humanis, usually behind the scenes, and I'm cool with that.
Ancient History
No kicking, no kicking. Just finish reading Aftermath and see if anything jumps out at you.
Jaid
hmmm... well i appear to be the first one to notice this... or at least the first one to mention it...

but squinkygets a cameo of sorts, i guess =P
Dashifen
I have to say that I enjoyed reading it thouroughly. I remember reading System Failure in one sitting and I did the same with Emergence. I was truly entertained and, at times, made uneasy by the actions in the story. I've been on the receiving end of a bit of prejudice in my days and while my experience in no way approach that which is described in the book nor even resemble more mundane issues of bigotry and tolerance, I can definetly speak with confidence garnered from experience that the actions taken and the chaos that ensues is both believable and feels very real.

As you can probably guess, I'm a fan of the Matrix settings in SR4 and, frankly, because of my own leanings toward technology and religiosity, the combination of mystical, perhaps even shamanic, tendencies described in towards the end of the book make me quite excited for Unwired and the potential for more information on these Technomancer Paragons.

I will admit to having skimmed all of the adventure ideas to more quickly get back to the action. That action, presented in dialog on FastJack's Jackpoint, was comprised in the form of dialog, as others have mentioned, and shadowtalk. Frankly, it was great. The dialog between people as they speculated on what this rumor meant or what this new story as dredged up by Sunshine or Netcat (two of the "stars" of the book) means in the greater context.

I have to say that I admire FastJack's role in all of this, too. Throughout the dialog, he frequently acts as a calming voice -- someone who's been through and seen it all (mostly because he has) -- and I really like that he didn't ban Clockwork after his machinations were revealed. FastJack's dedication to the free exchange of information disconnected from the way that information is used speaks to an almost Firefly-eske "Can't Stop the Signal" sort of thing.

The book has already altered my plans for my next campaign in a positive way. I was already planning on sending my players by boat from Seattle to Hong Kong with a stop over for repairs somewhere in the Pacific. Now, I'm thinking they might be in for a very interesting few days in Hong Kong. I wonder if I'll get a new TM this year or not.....
Aaron
[ Spoiler ]
fistandantilus4.0
QUOTE (Synner)
I'd just like to say that I believe knasser's is wrong as to Emergence presenting solid reasons why technomancers are persecuted at this point in time.


Pg 25, Slamm-O is making the same statement that Knasser made. The world has already been through so much: the awakening in '11, goblinization in '21, bugs, SURGE, and the second crash, so who cares about technomancers.

The answer he gets is that the matrix is everywhere, and part of everyone's life, which is why AIPS has such a strong effect on people. Something that is part of their everyday life is all of a sudden potentially hostile.

There was a great article in the paper today about a family that is being terroized by someone apparently hacking their cellphone. They use tha camera, they leave messages about what the people are wearing at the moment, or the activitites they're doing. They cops can't locate them, and all the messages originate from one of the family members phone. They get death threats, messages taht their kids will be shot at school if they take them today, one message when someone in the family was cutting limes, saying that they prefered lemons. This is today.
We're always talking about what a good hacker can do in the system in the 70's . A hacker is someone with skills, that has to work to be that good. Technomancers are that good right out of the box. And they don't always know what they're doing or how to control it from the sound of things.

Also remember, if lynchings and such seem crazy to you, they did the same thing to voodouns in '61 because of the shedim. People feel threatened, and they react, and not always logically. There's plenty of precedent for it in SR.
hobgoblin
its the age old saying:

what man cant understand he fears
what he fears, he hates
what he hates, he destroys
fistandantilus4.0
Same thing happened with the Changelings, although not quite as bad, because similar things happened already ,what with the Night of Rage, and there's been a lot of people working on meta equality. So changelings already had some people on their side. Then it happened with the voodouns and shedim. This is just ten years back from the technomancer mess.

The populations of the Sixth World are consistently unaccepting and violent to new things and change. They've already had a lot of it. They want consistency and some time for the world to settle down. Instead it's upheavel after upheavel. They don't feel secure so they strike out against what's making them feel insecure. This time instead of their neighbor tunring in to something though, it effects everyone because it effects the matrix. It effects them, or it might, if they don't stop the technomancers in time.
mfb
i'm just kinda tired of that explanation. yes, that happens a lot in real life, but come on--how many times is that card going to get played? let's introduce a new character type/option, and then to make them interesting, let's have everyone hate them. except for the cool people--the cool people don't hate them, because that wouldn't be cool. it's just the adults non-mutants rest of the world that hates them.
fistandantilus4.0
I won't say it's not an old hat. I'm just demonstrating that 's it's plausible.
I know the game does seem to have a recurring x-men trend at times. "'X' group is the target of hate. Ok, now they've moved on from 'x', now we hate 'Y'." And there is the hate monger that everyone eventually dismisses, and the voice of reason that everyone flocks too. Probably why so many people want to make the Draco Foundation a secret bad guy, and re-work Aztechnology and Humanins to something not so openly black hat.
Ancient History
Ah, but wait for the next book.
fistandantilus4.0
I am.

Which next book? I need to know in which direction to direct my hope.
mfb
well, that stuff is just a desire for consistency and realism. i mean, as presented, Humanis is a popular, powerful fringe group that no one supports--but that almost won a presidential bid. they're a clean, friendly we-don't-hate-anyone group that randomly drops bombs on meta neighborhoods. i mean, what the hell, man?

Demonseed Elite
mfb, did you just describe Humanis, or the American Evangelical movement?

I kid!

maybe.

>_>
Ravor
And now we know the correct way to protray Humanis in our campaigns. cyber.gif
fistandantilus4.0
I agree that Humanis should be more mainstream. That any time they work an attack like that, it should be through proxies. It's been said before that that is what they do, but it's rarely presented that way in the game. If they're going to take out a neighborhood, it should be like what happened to the Cutters. However ,I haven't gotten that far in to Emergence yet, so I don't know the details of the attack in question.
Ancient History
<shrug> Republicans get voted into office all the time.

Here's a comparison: the Humanis Policlub is a lot like the NRA in the USA. It gets totally lambasted by liberals, trashed often by the press-but it is very popular among many common voters, and has many celebrity spokespersons, corporate sponsors with deep pockets, and consequently many friendly politicians. And for the most part, chapters of the Humanis Policlubs are not evil. They're law-abiding guys and gals that like to hang out together-just like an Elks Lodge or American Legion club. The problem is that some groups actually do have a completely racist agenda, and the ways and means to carry it out. They're the fanatics, the white-hooders, the guys that stockpile automatic weapons and grenades-and they also happen to be the people behind the scenes running things.

The people on the outside spread crazy rumors about the shit they get up to, the liberals and bourgeoisie "know better" but rarely do anything, and the powerful politicos either ignore them or try to use them for their own advantage.

Think about this for a second: most of the guys in the Humanis Policlub aren't racist in the sense that they'd participate in a lynching. They're basically good people, even if they call anything with horns a trog. Hell, they probably go home and jerk off to interracial porn, getting themselves all worked up because of the "taboo" nature of the relationship.

So say you, Joe Shadowrunner, in a fit of righteous pique, firebomb the local Humanis Policlub. Fight the Man! End the Hate! Except you just cacked about sixteen beer-swilling guys drinking at the only bar in ten miles that opens at nine in the morning, the old lady that cleans the place on Tuesdays, and maybe one teenager with his head screwed on backwards that actually likes to kick the shit out of dwarfs 'cause they're the only thing smaller than him.

That's the kicker, the nasty bit that keeps the Humanis Policlub going: the real bastards, the wolves, hide out amidst the sheep.

[/edit]@fisty: Augmentation is slated next.
ShadowDragon8685
You woulden't happen to be able to provide an online link to that, would you, Fisty?
mfb
that's certainly how i prefer to play them.
bclements
QUOTE (mfb)
let's introduce a new character type/option, and then to make them interesting, let's have everyone hate them. except for the cool people--the cool people don't hate them, because that wouldn't be cool. it's just the adults non-mutants rest of the world that hates them.

Actually, this part isn't right. I wouldn't open the spoiler if you've got any interest in reading the narrative for yourself.

[ Spoiler ]


WhiskeyMac
So we can treat the Humanis Policlub like a mix between the NRA and the Scientologists?
Rotbart van Dainig
Newsflash: Runners are mistrustfull and no white knights. nyahnyah.gif
Ravor
Naw, the Universal Brotherhood was the Sixth World's version of Scientologists. cyber.gif
WhiskeyMac
But everybody knows Horizon is just a new front for the Universal Brotherhood. Right?
Ravor
Now why would you say that? We all know that they don't feed your soul to evil Bug Spirits, they aren't Ares you know.

Instead they feed your soul to evil AIs that use the upcoming rules in AUG to rig your body as a Biodrone. cyber.gif
fistandantilus4.0
QUOTE (ShadowDragon8685 @ Jun 23 2007, 04:15 PM)
You woulden't happen to be able to provide an online link to that, would you, Fisty?

I have the article on my desk in front of me, but couldn't find it on the paper's website. if you're interested, the paper is the Record Searchlight out of Redding, California. Atricle is titled 'Restricted' Caller, because all the phone calls show 'Restricted' .
Aaron
QUOTE (fistandantilus3.0)
QUOTE (Synner)
I'd just like to say that I believe knasser's is wrong as to Emergence presenting solid reasons why technomancers are persecuted at this point in time.

Pg 25, Slamm-O is making the same statement that Knasser made. The world has already been through so much: the awakening in '11, goblinization in '21, bugs, SURGE, and the second crash, so who cares about technomancers.

People care about technomancers because technomancers make hospitals explode. And set huge metroplexes on fire. And all that other stuff that had been attributed to them. Said so on the news.
Zen Shooter01
Why are people afraid of technomancers?

Because the last big mysterious matrix phenomenon nearly plunged the 6th World into a new dark age.

Similarly, in the SR books magophobia keeps popping up as an inexplicable artifact of mankind's ignorance. Walking among you, looking just like you, are people who can kill you with a thought, read your mind, telekinetically throw you over the house, turn you into a giant insect, or make you cut your own child's throat with a paring knife. What's to worry about?
knasser
QUOTE (Zen Shooter01)
Similarly, in the SR books magophobia keeps popping up as an inexplicable artifact of mankind's ignorance. Walking among you, looking just like you, are people who can kill you with a thought, read your mind, telekinetically throw you over the house, turn you into a giant insect, or make you cut your own child's throat with a paring knife. What's to worry about?


Right. So why get worked up about a handful of people (they're listed as rarer than mages) who can do things that other people can already do?

@bclements: When MFB says all the cool people, I'm afraid Clockwork is not a counter-example. He's ignorant and comes up with weak arguments to support his case. He's a strawman - i.e. a deliberately weak proponent of his beliefs so that he can be shot down. The part at the end that you reference really just goes to drive home the simplisitic message.
Zen Shooter01
Because the technomancer phenomenon is poorly understood. Joe Citizen of the 6th World doesn't have SR4 open in front of him like we do.

And because technomancers are associated in the public mind with the Crash of '64, the trauma of which is still very fresh to Joe Citizen.
Rotbart van Dainig
Oh, and BTW - big Booos for putting that as a fact in Game Information:
[ Spoiler ]

It completly cut's the cliffhangers from System Failure.
Samantha
Joe Shmoe is scared. If you look at one of the posters on Jackpoint (Not naming names, start with a C, ends with lockwork), you can see just what they fear. They fear something that might be related to the Crash, maybe even caused it. Just like the witchhunts of old, people are afraid of what they can't understand, and therefore much BURN IT! BURN IT TO HELL!
bclements
QUOTE (knasser @ Jun 24 2007, 12:29 PM)
@bclements: When MFB says all the cool people, I'm afraid Clockwork is not a counter-example. He's ignorant and comes up with weak arguments to support his case. He's a strawman - i.e. a deliberately weak proponent of his beliefs so that he can be shot down. The part at the end that you reference really just goes to drive home the simplisitic message.

Oh, no doubt; most 'I don't like you because of what* you are' arguments tend to be fairly ignorant and at best simplistic. However, IMO he's one of the "cool kids" that mfb mentions because of the following things:

-He's posting on Jackpoint By definition, he's going to be a voice that carries some weight, because he's on a closed system and has been vouched for by at least someone else on that system (this isn't just 'hack a node and get in' like the old Shadowland). Sure, we've seen in past shadowtalk some of the same type of talk, but that's been from some fairly obvious Humanis type people that the former Shadowland sysops let in, not in Jackpoint. Clockwork's a regular contributor seemingly, and is featured in Arsenal along with Picador by the login page.

-He's a hobgoblin IIRC, they're picked on pretty hard just for being born in the area that they're common (Mid east ork variant, I want to say).

As an aside to the above, I do like the fixed number of Jackpoint personalities. I hope the writers develop their personalities more in the upcoming work; I imagine that jobs easier now wink.gif

*ork, troll, Awakened, TM; something you were born with that isn't easily changed.
bibliophile20
QUOTE (Rotbart van Dainig)
Oh, and BTW - big Booos for putting that as a fact in Game Information:
[ Spoiler ]

It completly cut's the cliffhangers from System Failure.

Not so; I'm still worried about Pax and her ilk. That metaplot thread hasn't been closed yet, which means that she's (probably) still running around somewhere. considering how psychotic and ruthless she is, that's not a good thing.
Rotbart van Dainig
It still is bad taste to not leaving open the possibility.
mfb
not that there's any chance Pax is a TM. as i recall, she had less essence than a toaster.
bibliophile20
QUOTE (mfb)
not that there's any chance Pax is a TM. as i recall, she had less essence than a toaster.

Which means that she's probably even more dangerous now--if she went through all of the setup to the Crash 2.0 just to have a chance at keeping them, what would she resort to to regain them?
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